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SEA@OAK: Drew's two-run blast puts the A's up by two

OAKLAND -- Boosted by the return of Coco Crisp to the field and Brandon McCarthy in the dugout, the A's returned to The Coliseum with an 8-2 win against the Mariners on Friday night.

Having survived a 20-game stretch in which they played 17 on the road, the A's opened their season-ending homestand with the win, furthering their bid for a postseason berth. The win sustained the A's two-game advantage over the Angels for the second Wild Card spot, while drawing them within three games of the Rangers for the division lead. Earlier on Friday night, the Angels' began their three-game series against the Rangers with a 7-4 win.

Crisp returned after missing most of two weeks because of pink eye by going 3-for-5 and scoring three runs, including starting off Oakland's side of the first inning with a solo shot to right.

"That was more than I was expecting, obviously, with the home run in the first at bat," Crisp said. "I was just looking to go up there and get some quality at-bats and try to see the ball. I was getting a lot better at that tonight. It's always nice to come back to get one hit to get in the groove so you can add on to that with a couple more."

Stephen Drew contributed a go-ahead two-run blast in the third to back an encouraging start from A.J. Griffin, who pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks.

After Crisp drove a 3-2 fastball from Mariners starter Blake Beavan over the right-field fence for his 11th home run of the season, the Mariners answered with a solo home run from Trayvon Robinson in the second inning to even the score.

"He's got good stuff -- a good fastball, good off-speed stuff," Robinson said of Griffin, who he had faced earlier this season in Triple-A. "He keeps you honest. He just left that one curveball up, and I was trying to drive something and got it out."

Griffin departed in the sixth inning after loading the bases with two outs, with Sean Doolittle coming in to get Justin Smoak to fly out to right to end the threat. Griffin's outing followed two starts in which he gave up a combined nine earned runs on 15 hits against the Tigers and Yankees.

"The ball was just going to people tonight," Griffin said. "Any big league lineup you face, you're going to get the ball hit off of you. The last couple starts, the ball just kept finding holes, and I don't feel like I pitched that poorly. They were just hitting balls down the line, good placement. I still felt like I was executing pitches OK."

The Mariners pulled within 4-2 on Michael Saunders' home run off Doolittle in the top of the seventh, but the A's responded with a four-run side of the inning in which nine players batted to break open the game.

McCarthy, meanwhile, was back with in the Oakland dugout for the first time since he took a line-drive off his head earlier this month that fractured his skull.

"That was really cool to have him in the dugout tonight," manager Bob Melvin said. "We have his jersey in the dugout every game, and he was physically in there today, which was great."

Melvin waited until an hour before the game to post his lineup, waiting to see if Crisp would be able to start in center after getting to the park later than usual because of an appointment with an eye doctor. After taking fly balls in the outfield, Crisp told Melvin he was ready to play.

"It all starts with him, all the way around," Melvin said. "We just wanted to make sure we didn't put him in a situation where something dangerous could happen where he couldn't see the ball very well."

Now with five games left in the regular season, Griffin's next start is scheduled for next Wednesday against the Rangers, the team's final game of the season.

"That's the fun part of this business," Griffin said. "You get to go out there and pitch in games that matter, especially in this time of the year. I just want a chance to win ball games."

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